The good news is your Gmail account gives you an enormous amount of flexibility in managing your email. The bad news is some of the most interesting features are those you’d never know about until you start trying things out, or reading through the gmail help pages. Which – since Gmail works quite well without knowing the advanced features – is something most people never do.
One feature that can make your inbox more organized, and your email volume less overwhelming, is Gmail’s version of ‘aliases’. Your Gmail account comes with an unlimited number of aliases that you can use anytime, anywhere. The aliases in gmail are different than in many email accounts, but this makes them easier to use once you’re used to them. Take your regular gmail username, and add a + after it, and then any alias you want. Follow it with the @gmail.com part of your email address. Here are a few examples:
- If your Gmail address is [email protected], you could use the alias [email protected] when you sign up for websites that you think are going to send you junk mail. You can then create a filter in your gmail account that says “all messages sent to [email protected] should skip the inbox”.
- You could use the alias [email protected] when you subscribe to emails from any of the medical journals. You can either just let all these emails come to your inbox like any other emails would (this is the default), or you could assign a rule to them, like “all messages sent to drbobb[email protected] should be put in my Clinical Journals folder.
- You could use the alias [email protected] when you sign up for any social media (sm) websites. Then you can filter all social media messages into a folder, skipping the inbox, and keeping a large number of social media site notifications out of your immediate view.
What makes Gmail’s aliases so easy to start using, is that you don’t need to actually ‘set them up’. Any email sent to your [email protected] will show up in your inbox, just like a message sent to [email protected] You can figure out what filters to set up later, once you see what kind of volume or disruption you’re getting from any set of messages that are coming to one of your aliases. The one downside I’ve found so far is that some websites do not allow a “+” in their email address form, so you won’t be able to use a Gmail alias on those sites.